JIS News

Some 101 displaced sugar workers, formerly of the Frome Sugar Estate in Westmoreland, have been selected to receive special grants amounting to $16 million, through the government’s Sugar Transformation Unit.
The initiative, funded by the European Union, is geared towards providing alternative employment and economic support to over 800 sugar workers who have been laid off from all the sugar factories across Jamaica.
Addressing the issue at the Westmoreland Parish Council monthly meeting in Savanna-la-Mar on March 11, Deputy Mayor, Mr. Paul Wilson, said that it was commendable that some level of assistance and attention have finally been directed at the many who have been displaced.
“The 101 persons have been qualified in categories such as house keeping, agriculture, business education and training and chicken rearing and will be awarded $170,000.00 each (for women) and $150,000.00 (for men). Of this number, 59 have opted to participate in a pension scheme, which has been set up in collaboration with the Westmoreland Credit Union. This will allow the Credit Union to invest the specified amounts on behalf of the individuals who will receive a monthly return off their investments,” Councillor Wilson explained.
He pointed out that selection of awardees was focused on the most vulnerable persons and low salaried individuals, but he would suggest that plans be put in place urgently for those displaced workers from management and other top levels to be also targeted for grants.
“There are elements of the programme that certainly have positive spin-offs. I have no objection to them giving the benefits to the workers who fell at the lowest rung of the ladder, but my concern is that they have left out the upper levels of the ladder, such as the managers and the supervisors. These persons have the leadership capacity to take on new and novel enterprises. I would love to see trained managers in particular, who have the capacity to embrace new enterprises, that they be involved also,” the Deputy Mayor argued.

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